Summer Rules According to the Experts
Like many parents at this time of year, my mind has now turned to thoughts of summer. Sleeping in, sunshine, beaches, swimming, relaxation, freedom from schedules and how in the world am I going to survive spending ALL DAY EVERY DAY with these children of mine?! (Who I love dearly. Of course.)
When I consulted a knowledgeable parenting source (i.e. scrolled through my Facebook feed) I came across all kinds of advice and instructions and opinions on how my kids should be spending their summer.
Since I know there have to be other parents out there looking toward summer with this same
dread excitement, I thought I would compile a helpful list of exactly how you should be parenting your children during these long summer days. This list is based on the expert advice of other parents who obviously have it all figured out.
Rules for the Perfect Summer Parent
- You need to get back to your roots and make your kids experience summer like you did as a kid. Force them to find their own fun by locking them out of the house and telling them not to come home until dinner. But of course, you also need to make sure that they are under your constant supervision at all times. There are kidnappers around every corner these days and you can never be too careful. So don’t let them out of your sight. Ever.
- Be sure that you always have planned activities for your children. It’s a good idea to keep a list of fun activities and crafts and science experiments and outdoor water games and scavenger hunts that will occupy your children all day. But also remember that if you choose to plan any activities for your children, they will actually never learn to use their own imaginations or come up with any ideas themselves, so actually- you should definitely just leave them to their own devices in order to encourage self-learning and creativity.
- Remember- summer is for playing! Your kids just spent nine months in school, so give them a break! There’s no reason for summer to be educational, no reason to bore your kids with learning or reading. That’s what school is for, and they’ll be forced back there soon enough! But you also need to be aware that “summer slide” is very real. And serious. The average student loses 2.6 months of grade level equivalent learning over the summer. So obviously we need to be constantly vigilant about providing educational stimuli for our children at all times during the summer.
- No screen time! Summer is the time for being outside- not rotting their brains in front of the TV or computer or iPad or phone. Make those kids go outside and get some fresh air and exercise, and ban those screens! Except… the more you forbid screens, the more your kids are going to want them. And of course, studies (anecdotal evidence) have shown that if you have the screens readily accessible and don’t make a big deal about their use, then the kids aren’t nearly as interested in them and they don’t become an issue. So actually, you may want to reconsider your ban…
- Remember that summer is a time to relax and let loose! Throw out the rules and don’t worry about schedules. The only important thing is that everyone is having fun! But at the same time, of course it’s very important to keep your kids on a schedule similar to the school year so as not to upset the balance. Consistency is the key. Try to get them up at the same time every morning and bedtime should remain the same. There’s no need to keep them up late just because it’s summer and everyone else has loosened their rules.
- Summer is a great time to take advantage of summer classes, lessons, day camps, overnight camps, vacation bible schools… There are so many great opportunities during this time of year. So get your kids involved! And try not to feel guilty about the fact that you are sending your kids away instead of spending quality time with them yourself. I mean, some parents would like to use the summer as an opportunity to soak up every single moment with their beautiful children. But it’s your choice… if you want to send your kids away…
I hope you have found this list to be full of sound advice for your Best Summer Ever! However- if for some reason you do not find this list helpful, I do have one other suggestion.
Here’s Your Summer Permission Slip
You could throw this list away.
Then you could sit down and make your own list of all the fun activities you want to do with your children this summer. And then you could make another list of all the amazing places you want to take them. And then a list of the educational classes and camps you would love for your kids to experience. And then you could make a list of some quiet, rainy day activities to do at home. And you know what? I guarantee your kids are going to have an awesome summer. You go, Mama-With-A-Plan!
For those without a plan- after you throw this list away, you have my permission to not make a single list for the rest of the summer. You can wake up every morning and fly by the seat of your pants, be spontaneous, and have awesome unplanned adventures with your kids. Sounds like an amazing summer to me!
Or- for the less adventurous- you may decide to wake up every morning and send your kids outside to make their own adventures! Let them climb trees and make forts and create fairy gardens and run through the sprinkler and eat popsicles for lunch and find frogs and ride bikes and play hide-and-seek with the neighborhood kids. And then eventually come home for dinner. What kid wouldn’t love that summer?
Or maybe you’re somewhere in the middle… Maybe you can plan some great adventures with the family and sign the kids up for a day camp or two. And then on some days you can let them roam free and make their own fun! Maybe one day you go to a museum, one day you set up craft stations at home, one day they play in the backyard, and one day you let them watch TV.
Summer is a beautiful time and there is so much fun to be had. But there are also long days and hot days. And sometimes tired, whiny kids. So I say- feel free to give yourself a break this summer.
Don’t worry about what all the other parents are doing. It’s your summer and your kids- so you make this summer whatever you want it to be. Whatever you decide, you know that you’re doing the best job you can right now. And maybe it won’t turn out to be the best summer ever, but I’m betting it will still be a darn good one. Because it’s your summer, your way.
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